DDs teacher giving serious misinformation WWYD?

(343 Posts)
phantomnamechanger Thu 09-Jan-14 20:51:31

How to deal with this please......

DD has recently got a new English teacher. They are reading Pride & Prejudice (just started). Today in the lesson, the teacher has on several occasions referred to it being set in "the Victorian era"
that's a massive error to make, right? how do we point this out? DD was like hmm when she told me, but there will be other kids who believe the teacher and for whom that will stick.
DD did not want to correct the teacher for fear of being reprimanded/thought rude.

phantomnamechanger Thu 09-Jan-14 20:53:19

DD is 14, yr 9 BTW

Oh dear. That is a massive error indeed. Ouch! Think it will need to be a matter for the Head of Department tbh. Points to a serious lack of subject knowledge.

hoboken Thu 09-Jan-14 20:54:06

Send an anonymous letter to the teacher correcting her.

Shoozies Thu 09-Jan-14 20:55:05

Yep, definitely share this with the head so she can have a subtle word with the teacher. Embarrassing!

blink87 Thu 09-Jan-14 20:55:46

There should be no shame in correcting gross misinformation, just as you are taught at school to not fear asking questions. this is definitely something other's would believe and a correction should be made.
If your Dd is reprimanded then take it further, but I'm shocked at how incorrect this information is hmm

ClaudiusGalen Thu 09-Jan-14 20:57:10

You need to speak to the HOD. If you go to the head, it will just get passed on to the HOD anyway. I'm a HOD, I spend a lot of time dealing with stuff like this, don't worry, just inform them.

TheseAreTheJokesFolks Thu 09-Jan-14 20:57:17

If it is for SATS then she needs to know.
fwiw I didn't know it was regency era either and have an A in english lit A-level...d'oh...tis what GCSE Passnotes are for wink

mythbustinggov Thu 09-Jan-14 20:57:22

Email the head of faculty and copy headmaster and complain. Anything else will get ignored.

RevoltingPeasant Thu 09-Jan-14 20:57:32

Eeeek. That is not good.... But did the teacher definitely say that? Doesn't sound like something someone with an English degree would say!! Can you check before you go in blazing?

Wabbitty Thu 09-Jan-14 20:58:17

reminds me of when we were visiting the Jane Austen centre and the curator said that Janes brother, the one in the Navy, was a great favourite of Napolean. I got a sharp elbow in the ribs when I muttered he must have been a shit sailor then.

Inertia Thu 09-Jan-14 20:59:26

I think the best thing might be for your daughter to go to the teacher before the next lesson and explain that she was confused over the timing and did some extra research, and show the teacher the actual dates of the Victorian era and the setting of the book. This will avoid it looking as though DD is trying to be rude or show off, it gives the teacher the opportunity to correct the mistake, and it shows that DD is taking an interest.

phantomnamechanger Thu 09-Jan-14 20:59:26

it was not a one off or a slip of the tongue. she kept on referencing stuff in the text and going off at a tangent explaining "because that's what things were like in Victorian times".

I don't want to be blacklisted by her as one of those parents but this really needs saying doesn't it.

Are you on here Mrs H? Save me and DD the embarrassment of telling you?

RevoltingPeasant Thu 09-Jan-14 21:00:41

Wabbitty I took my students to a National Trust property last year where the guide knowledgeably told them Austen was one of the first professional women writers. My students gave me many knowing looks!

ClaudiusGalen Thu 09-Jan-14 21:00:44

I'd be more worried that an explanation as crap as 'because that's what things were like in Victorian times' was being offered, tbh.

Inertia Thu 09-Jan-14 21:00:56

Oh sorry, I've misunderstood, didn't realise that it was a question about whether to report the teacher.

Coldlightofday Thu 09-Jan-14 21:00:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

harticus Thu 09-Jan-14 21:01:25

Why doesn't your daughter just stick her hand up and tell the teacher she's wrong?

Hassled Thu 09-Jan-14 21:01:34

Email the teacher? You're right, it's a fairly massive error - and there's historical significance too; Wickham and his Militia was very much of the period (distrust of standing armies) and the Napoleonic Wars are going on in the background, hence the groups of soldiers stationed around the country. So it matters, absolutely.

Coldlightofday Thu 09-Jan-14 21:02:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Ubik1 Thu 09-Jan-14 21:03:22

Just get your daughter to say to teacher ' I thought it was Georgian era...'

JodieGarberJacob Thu 09-Jan-14 21:04:39

P &P was written in 1813 iirc so it's Georgian. Regency is later.

BonesAndSkully Thu 09-Jan-14 21:05:42

whats probably caused the confusion is P&P is billed as being 'regency era' which does cover both the georgian and early victorian era.

However, the book was set at the beginning of the 19th century and is quite definitely Georgian!

ClaudiusGalen Thu 09-Jan-14 21:06:07

The formal Regency began in 1811.

BonesAndSkully Thu 09-Jan-14 21:07:31

The Regency era extends outside of George IVs regency over George III and actually extends from 1795 through to 1837 when Victoria took the throne.

Ubik1 Thu 09-Jan-14 21:07:37

Yes -i'm always reminded of all the bath houses, when I read Austen.

RevoltingPeasant Thu 09-Jan-14 21:08:29

Well if you want to be really picky it was probably largely drafted in the 1790s grin

Which just makes the teacher even wronger...

JodieGarberJacob Thu 09-Jan-14 21:08:49

Sorry, that's correct. I was thinking he was Regent from 1820 to 1830 but that was when he was kingblush

ClaudiusGalen Thu 09-Jan-14 21:10:25

Yes, actually Regency 1811-1820. Regency era in terms of definite trends in architecture, literature etc is 1795-1837.

I'm a HOD, teachers make mistakes, we are only human. This one is worrying though, because if you are teaching a novel you should know it backwards, including the context.

Austen known generally as a 'Regency era' writer, rather than Georgian.

BettyBotter Thu 09-Jan-14 21:10:50

Just email her and let her know that somehow dd has picked up the wrong end of the stick and clearly wrongly believes P&P is Victorian. You're sure the teacher will want to know the class have this misconception so she can clear it up.

Ubik1 Thu 09-Jan-14 21:11:13

Yes Jane Austen died in 1817 (?)

ClaudiusGalen Thu 09-Jan-14 21:15:02

Austen of course was quite scathing about Prinny and was very unhappy about having to dedicate Emma to him.

Coldlightofday Thu 09-Jan-14 21:15:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

phantomnamechanger Thu 09-Jan-14 21:18:12

Why doesn't your daughter just stick her hand up and tell the teacher she's wrong?

Because DD is wary of a new teacher of unknown temperament. This teacher does not know whether DD is an A* student (which she is) or the class clown/trouble maker. Teachers do not always take kindly to being corrected in public, or react graciously to finding out they are wrong about something. They might even go for the deny deny deny option and insist they are right, leaving DD feeling like a fool. Or give her such a telling off for being so rude that she ends up in tears. Or bear a grudge and make DDs life a misery.

My teacher taught us this, too! I felt like such a twit when I found out and feel a bit better now. For ages I had an image in my head that someone the clothes you see Vic wearing in her early portraits were completely separate from the clothes you saw in Austen films ... no idea why.

Coldlightofday Thu 09-Jan-14 21:19:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Btw, if it were me, I think I'd go for the surreptitious nudge about dates, as others suggest. Tough on your DD though.

I don't think dd should tell the teacher she's wrong, for all of the reasons you say. Is the teacher fairly young/recently qualified maybe? I do think an email to the Head of English is the best way forward, just asking for clarification rather than guns blazing - "I wonder if dd has got the wrong end of the stick but she seems to think that Miss has saidX; can you check with miss what she was actually saying, as dd was hoping to do a bit of research and wanted to make sure she was doing the right thing" maybe?

phantomnamechanger Thu 09-Jan-14 21:23:42

So whatcha going to do then, OP?

I'm leaning towards Bettys suggestion atm....

Blanketsandpillows Thu 09-Jan-14 21:23:46

It does need to be addressed, and the teacher needs to be told; but I would just email the teacher and point out the error. I wouldn't email the Head of Department-it is a big mistake but I'm not convinced it's that big! (But if you spotted further, similar errors you could contact the Head of Dept)

ClaudiusGalen Thu 09-Jan-14 21:25:41

Can I say that only on MN do people seem to go out of their way to not just say 'I think this has happened, can you investigate?' I've never had contact from a parent in RL that was couched in so much obvious flannel. Just be direct and polite and let the HOD do their job.

harticus Thu 09-Jan-14 21:26:24

It is quite possible that the teacher may say "Oh yes you are right ... I am a useless tit.... thank you for pointing it out ... have 500 house points."

What kind of school doesn't encourage or expect participation and involvement of students regardless of whether the teacher is new and "of unknown temperament" (which makes her sound like a feisty Doberman puppy). Is it some kind of archaic private school where children are not expected to have a voice?

If the teacher reacts badly to your DD then take it further.

RevoltingPeasant Thu 09-Jan-14 21:28:19

See, when I was at school I would totally have raised my hand and said "but if PP was published in 1813 and Victoria didn't ascend the throne till '37, how is it Victorian?"

...and just waited for what she said.

But I appreciate that's a cultural thing maybe as I grew up in the States.

Also wouldn't worry about correcting her in public if she's making an error of that magnitude. If I talked crap to my students I'd expect to get called on it.

signet Thu 09-Jan-14 21:35:48

The Victorian era doesn't just refer to the time when Queen Victoria was on the throne. We use it to refer to a period of time within which there were Victorian sentiments. There is no actual start or finish time amongst academics. It's an ongoing argument, but its basically split into 3 periods with the early Victorian period beginning any time from 1800 onwards and the late Victorian period incorporating part of the Edwardian period. So academically speaking the teacher isn't wrong.

Ubik1 Thu 09-Jan-14 21:42:32

Oh well if DD is unsure of teacher then thr suggestion of a quiet email to HoD should sort it - and that way your DD stays out of it smile

Mim78 Thu 09-Jan-14 21:43:04

Please don't get dd to say anything as someone has suggested - teachers don't always take kindly to having errors pointed out by kids!

I would have a word either with her or HOD yourself though.

But, signet, would you actually tell students Austen was writing in the Victorian period? Surely at GCSE you would need to be precise, even if academics don't go for end-stopped period boundaries?

clam Thu 09-Jan-14 21:51:58

teachers don't always take kindly to having errors pointed out by kids!

But they might take even less kindly to being bollocked by the HOD after a parental complaint. I'd give her the chance to be magnanimous about it, but if she's arsey to your dd about it, then you can contact the HOD with a clear conscience and serves the bee-atch right.

Caitlin17 Thu 09-Jan-14 21:52:09

signet if you told someone in Edinburgh or Bath who lives in a house built before Victoria came to the throne that it was Victorian rather than Georgian, well - good luck, I wouldn't chance it!

signet Thu 09-Jan-14 21:52:53

Personally, yes I would call it a Victorian book, all be it very early Victorian. That would be correct.

Ubik1 Thu 09-Jan-14 21:54:44

At my school we were encouraged to question teachers - but I went to a lefty comp. I know not all schools encourage children to think critically about what they are being told.

phantomnamechanger Thu 09-Jan-14 21:55:02

But they might take even less kindly to being bollocked by the HOD after a parental complaint


which is why I am still leaning towards Bettys suggestion.
Have emailed the school office to ask for the new teachers email addy.

ClaudiusGalen Thu 09-Jan-14 21:55:03

If the HOD bollocked the staff member over this then the HOD would be an idiot. As a HOD it is my responsibility to know what is going on in my Dept and to plug any gaps with training. This will probably be picked up in book scrutiny or lesson obs, but that might not happen for a while, so I'd appreciate a polite heads up from a parent.

signet Thu 09-Jan-14 21:55:12

My point is its all very fluid and so probably its best not to complain about the teacher.

Mmm. Ok.

I don't think it is 'correct' for GCSE students. I think it's unfair.

By analogy - I'm a medievalist and I would happily consider some texts written up to 1550 or even beyond as 'medieval'. But if a student at that stage asked me whether Shakespeare was 'medieval', I would certainly say no. He isn't. Yes, an argument can be made that a few contemporary texts could be studied by medievalists, but this is just confusing for students.

I suppose it is possible the teacher is using 'Victorian' to mean the era you refer to and not the reign, but I think it's not a great idea ... and frankly, I think it's more likely she's simply made an error.

signet Thu 09-Jan-14 21:57:39

Caitlin those type of houses are from late 1700s so they would be Georgian and I wouldn't refer to them as anything else (except perhaps Hanoverian??).

signet Thu 09-Jan-14 21:59:11

You're probably right LRD it's not great for GCSE students, but I guess what I'm trying to say is maybe the teacher should be given a little bit of leeway.

Oh, sure.

TBH I'd give the teacher a bit of leeway even if it's a mistake. The thing is, students need to know one way or other, I reckon.

echt Thu 09-Jan-14 22:03:53

signet, Austen died before Victoria was born, so P&P being a Victorian novel is not matter of opinion.

OP, send a discreet note to the teacher. This is basic subject knowledge and the teacher should be getting it right.

UptheChimney Thu 09-Jan-14 22:05:13

Personally, yes I would call it a Victorian book, all be it very early Victorian. That would be correct

Pride and Prejudice was written before 1837, as any fule kno. So it is not Victorian.

I sincerely hope you are NOT a teacher.

And 'regency era' which does cover both the georgian and early victorian era

No, it doesn't. You could talk about the "late Romantic period" I suppose.

Good lord, I hope none of the posters making these statements is a teacher.

UptheChimney Thu 09-Jan-14 22:07:16

The Victorian era doesn't just refer to the time when Queen Victoria was on the throne. We use it to refer to a period of time within which there were Victorian sentiments. There is no actual start or finish time amongst academics. It's an ongoing argument, but its basically split into 3 periods with the early Victorian period beginning any time from 1800 onwards and the late Victorian period incorporating part of the Edwardian period. So academically speaking the teacher isn't wrong

I'm sorry, but you are the one who is wrong. And no real, qualified academic (ie PhD in English literature of the nineteenth century) would agree with you.

I hope you are not peddling this rubbish.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Thu 09-Jan-14 22:09:52

Given your DD is 14 I really do think she should simply stick up her hand and say politely that she'd thought P&P was a regency novel so she'd looked it up and she is correct, perhaps giving the dates of P&P and Victoria's reign. I really don't see why a parent would get involved in this unless the teacher responds unfairly to your DD.

ImperialBlether Thu 09-Jan-14 22:13:34

It sounds as though the teacher's referring to anything in 'the olden days' as Victorian.

I'd email the head of department and ask her/him to set the teacher straight.

UptheChimney Thu 09-Jan-14 22:15:16

I imagine the teacher will start talking about covering up piano legs and other such utter rubbish about "Victorian sentiments" next.

I despair sometimes.

Caitlin17 Thu 09-Jan-14 22:15:29

signet sorry if you agree houses built before Victoria ascended the throne can only be Georgian how can a novel written before Victoria ascended the throne be a Victorian novel?

freerangeeggs Thu 09-Jan-14 22:18:21

"Email the head of faculty and copy headmaster and complain. Anything else will get ignored."

This is harsh! If it was me (I'm an English teacher) I would be glad that the parent in question had emailed me, or that the child has pointed it out. I certainly wouldn't just ignore it and I can't think of any of my colleagues, past or present, who would. This is a bizarre response and takes it to the point of actually humiliating the teacher in question. If they don't respond, then yes, definitely take it further. But I very much doubt that would be the case.

Toecheese Thu 09-Jan-14 22:19:49

I would probably email the teacher and just politely and lightly mention that DD seems a bit confused about the novels era and seemed puzzled when i mentioned it was Georgian period.

Toecheese Thu 09-Jan-14 22:25:07

Send a direct email to teacher. Say that you are very excited they are reading the book but had to mention that its Georgian not Victorian. Apologise for being do pedantic but mention its been lovely hearing my DD discuss x and x in the book.

Toecheese Thu 09-Jan-14 22:26:43

I don't think you need to be heavy handed. Being a teacher is hard enough sometimes.

Forgive me for being ignorant - I'm asking because I'm a newbie teaching at university, so trying to do my best - is it typical for parents to be in touch with teachers at GCSE level?

Salmotrutta Thu 09-Jan-14 22:28:50

Oh dear.

I'm a teacher (but not of English) and I would be mortified to have misinformed on such a basic level.

If I had done such a thing though I'd probably prefer a pupil to have questioned it though rather than a Faculty Head coming down on me like a ton of bricks! grin

UptheChimney Thu 09-Jan-14 22:29:02

Being a teacher is hard enough sometimes

But understanding Austen as a writer in the Romantic period isn't hard. It's basic.

Salmotrutta Thu 09-Jan-14 22:32:22

LRD - I have had parents getting in touch at our Scottish equivalent level to GCSE.

Not because they think I've got my facts wrong I hasten to add grin but to ask about progress, attainment etc. of their offspring.

curlew Thu 09-Jan-14 22:32:48

The Victorian Era did not start in 1800!!!

And p an p is not, in any sense of the term, a Victorian novel.

ClaudiusGalen Thu 09-Jan-14 22:33:23

Yes LRD, in these days of email some parents are in constant contact. Others you need to hire a private detective to track down.

Thank you, salmo.

curlew Thu 09-Jan-14 22:33:49

Being a teacher is hard. Getting basic facts right isn't.

Salmotrutta Thu 09-Jan-14 22:36:53

Psst : and even i know that P&P is not Victorian


FutTheShuckUp Thu 09-Jan-14 22:38:05

My teacher when I was nine told me a bat wasn't a mammal. I like the know it all I still am took my encyclopaedia of mammals into school the very next day to prove it in fact was.

Jellytotsforme Thu 09-Jan-14 22:39:21

Surely all that is needed is a quick note written in a friendly way saying DC seems to think that Pride & Prejudice is set in Victorian era - must be miscommunication/misunderstanding, please can you correct?

Salmotrutta Thu 09-Jan-14 22:41:37

I think you might be me Fut...

I was that smart arse child too grin

BookroomRed Thu 09-Jan-14 22:43:46

Signet, I think that the idea of the 'long Victorian age' is waay too sophisticated for this teacher, if she's explaining a novel as 'that's what things were like in the Victorian period' and who sounds alarmingly clueless. (Anyway, I don't think anyone could argue that any of Austen is even vaguely proto-Victorian in outlook, and P and P is pure 1790s.)

It's not as if she's getting two characters confused, or a minor plot point wrong, it suggests she's failed to grasp a crucial aspect of the novel. I am a university lecturer and this kind of major factual error would suggest a poor student...

AuntySib Thu 09-Jan-14 22:47:09

When I was teaching, I once taught a class of 7 year olds the wrong word for a particular fruit in an MFL class. One of the children, who spoke that language at home, very sweetly came up to me, after the lesson and said " My Mummy calls it x not y." I was mortified, but very impressed with the way the child dealt with it, explained to the class and to the parent that I had a had a blip, and everyone was happy. I still think fondly of that child, and praised her to her Mum and the rest of the staff for her mature and polite attitude.
I would have been very upset if it had been referred to HOD, which IMO would have been a massive over-reaction.
So I would say that if a 7 year old can point out a mistake respectfully and non-confrontationally, so could your DD. If she doesn't feel able to do that, then I would not take it any further. Everyone, including teachers, can make mistakes, and public reprimands are not going to go down well.
If you really feel you have to say something, do it in person, not in an email, and speak directly to the teacher concerned.

grumpyoldbat Thu 09-Jan-14 22:47:53

Difficult to get the tone right I think. I was brought up not to question teachers. Even asking questions when you didn't understand was punished. I really wish children could question things, politely of course.

Pipbin Thu 09-Jan-14 22:49:03

If DD just says 'hang on this was written before Good Queen Vic came to the throne, how come it counts as Victorian?' then it gives the teacher a chance to explain her reasoning rather than just saying 'Oi Miss, you is wrong'.

EvilTwins Thu 09-Jan-14 22:50:54

I'm the kind of teacher who would say "goodness, you're right. Now I feel like a but of a a fool. Have 500 house points" I'd MUCH rather a student pointed out an error than a parent emailed the HOD (mind you, I am the HOD...) Yesterday, for example, I handed out a document telling my school play cast that they were needed for rehearsal on Sunday 10th Feb. They took great delight in telling me that date doesn't exist. If one of the, had gone home and got their mum to email me about the mistake, I'd have been mortified - but more about the fact that the students felt they couldn't point out an error than anything else. I know my rehearsal schedule isn't exactly on the same level as this teacher's error, but the sentiment is the same - I'd feel dreadful if I felt that my students thought they couldn't tell me I was wrong for fear of how I'd take it.

lionheart Thu 09-Jan-14 22:51:09

It's a common misconception. My niece had a list of Victorians from her school which included Austen (these were primary children who had to pick a name from the list for an independent project).

I think the ideology of 'you must not question teachers' is really bad.

I had a good friend who was brought up that way when I was at school. It is a really stupid and damaging concept for children.

EvilTwins Thu 09-Jan-14 22:52:26

I think it's far less common nowadays, LRD. Thankfully.

UptheChimney Thu 09-Jan-14 22:53:50

this kind of major factual error would suggest a poor student...

Exactly what I was thinking.

And -- point of order (this is one of my fields of expertise) we might talk about the "long nineteenth century" (from 1789 to 1914) but we'd never call it the "long Victorian age" -- there is a difference. But not one that most GCSE students would understand or need to understand.

The teacher is wrong, and is misleading the pupils, to their disadvantage in examinations and so on. The teacher needs to do her preparation properly, and correct any errors of understanding in her class.

YY, that is reassuring, evil. But it seems bad for the children in this class. Lots of them would not even think to try to 'correct' a teacher.

In year 9 my English teacher told me Catch 22 wasn't funny. She was quite scathing to me about it. Now the subject matter isn't, but come on, Major Major? Dark humour at its best, that book.

I think if you can encourage your dd to challenge this in a positive way and in private to avoid humiliating the teacher in public then this can only build her confidence in her own abilities and judgement.

Pipbin Thu 09-Jan-14 22:57:32

This 'long nineteenth century'? It is like how the 80s started in about 1979 and ended in 1988?

Anyway, the children I teach have pointed out when I'm wrong about things and I teacher Reception!

AnneEyhtMeyer Thu 09-Jan-14 22:57:51

Victoria wasn't even born when P&P was written. In fact Austen died before Victoria was born. In no way shape or form can Austen novels be described as Victorian.

echt Thu 09-Jan-14 23:02:45

Buffy, your post brought it all back to me. In Year 7 my English teacher
critiqued my choice of book to review on the grounds that it as a children's book. It was "The Wind in the Willows." Even at 11 I could see it functioned on quite a few levels. Apparently she could not.

thegreylady Thu 09-Jan-14 23:02:57

I can't believe anyone finds it acceptable to use the adjective Victorian about a period before Victoria was Queen. As an English teacher she should be fully aware of the chronology of the texts she is teaching. Context and setting are crucial to full understanding. I'd send a note in with your dd and not involve anyone else at this stage.

People talk about 'long' or 'short' centuries when there is something striking that happened which, historians think, caused a real shift in how people were before and after. So for example, the fifteenth century (medieval) could be said to end in 1485 because of politial shifts to the Tudor dynasty. Or the nineteenth century could be said to 'end' in 1914 because that marks a more dramatic rupture in most people's lives than 1900.

I think most historians are quite cautious about using these terms nowadays.

Welshwabbit Thu 09-Jan-14 23:07:15

I agree with those who say that your dd should raise it quietly with the teacher. Not publicly. My already dicey relationship with my sixth form English teacher went even further downhill when she misspelled the name of a novelist on the board and I told my friend who sat next to me that it was wrong (quietly). The teacher saw me and demanded that I share my observation with the rest of the class. After trying to get out of it, I reluctantly complied. She told me I was wrong, I said I wasn't, so she got one of his books off the shelf, and realised I was right. She then said she knew she'd seen it spelt like that somewhere. All very embarrassing and I don't think she ever forgave me. I am in general fairly good at spelling, and my previous English teacher used to check words with me, which didn't do anything for my street cred but showed she was secure in her own abilities. She was fab.

Anyway, the point of all this is that I think your dd should do as I say, not as I did, and speak to her teacher in private. I think emailing is going to make the teacher feel foolish which could in turn affect their relationship with your dd.

UptheChimney Thu 09-Jan-14 23:08:00

One colleague of mine (an economic historian) talks about the biggest shift being around the mid-16th century. So for him, smaller periods (such as Victorian, or Georgian) are irrelevant.

Grr just typed out post on iPad and then battery went.

If it were one of my dc, I'd handle it like this:

Talk to them about ways to handle it positively themselves. So get them to think about polite ways to raise it, ways to avoid humiliating the teacher and seeming like a smart arse.

Possibly coach them through bringing it up and ways to respond to different responses from the teacher. I'd want them to handle it themselves if possible, at 14 they should be able to and it would be a valuable learning exercise in handling a tricky situation and in building their own self-confidence.

If the teacher reacted unfairly, then I'd take it further. I'd back dc to the hilt and want to talk seriously to the school about why they would want to discourage children from questioning things that seemed strange and why they would be so disrespectful of a young person to embarrass or punish them (as you or your dd seem to fear the teacher might?)

Hope that's a useful perspective.

Oh FFS! Even DH knows it's Georgian and he's allergic to history. That is pretty poor show for the teacher. Has she even read the book?

EBearhug Thu 09-Jan-14 23:16:42

the "long nineteenth century" (from 1789 to 1914)

Ah, Hobsbawm.

I would definitely have to say something. In fact, knowing me, I'd have probably said something in the class, but I was that sort of child, probably incredibly annoying. Probably still am

BonesAndSkully Thu 09-Jan-14 23:32:19

Its Regency or Georgian, at a push Romantic. It is not in any way, shape or form Victorian!

Pixel Thu 09-Jan-14 23:35:07

I don't get this fear of querying something like this. I can understand a child being reluctant to say something to a new teacher but why would the parents pussyfoot around? You are adults, the teachers are adults, they are not the boss of you. Can't you just send a casual email to say "Was discussing P&P with dd earlier and she seemed to be under the impression that it is set in the victorian era which didn't seem right to me. We looked it up and found this <send useful link>. Hope you don't mind me pointing it out. Regards..."

NigellasDealer Thu 09-Jan-14 23:40:28

Personally, yes I would call it a Victorian book, all be it very early Victorian. That would be correct
um no it would not be correct at all, it would be quite wrong in fact.

Custardo Thu 09-Jan-14 23:44:33

being a total chicken shit,

I would open a new email account and e-mail anonymously

RevoltingPeasant Thu 09-Jan-14 23:53:12

Of course, the only true 'long century' is the eighteenth, which begins in 1642 and ends in 1832.



Nice try, RP, nice try.

<discounts the long fifteenth century>

UptheChimney Thu 09-Jan-14 23:55:12

RevoltingPeasant I like your style.

UptheChimney Thu 09-Jan-14 23:55:55

But rteally, we need to be talking about Christian and post-Christian. The break being around about 1859.


How dare you?!


Oh, ok, I admit, I have no idea why 'Christian' and 'post-Christian' happens in 1859.

Whatdoiknowanyway Fri 10-Jan-14 00:00:54

My daughter had the identical issue with 2 consecutive English teachers. She pointed it out both times.
I let her fight that battle but had to write in when an entire class was taken up on Carole Anne Duffy's Salome without the teacher mentioning anything to the class about its connection with the story of John the Baptist.
When asked who Othello was he said 'the Moor' but didn't explain what that meant and then told them that Kenneth Branagh was playing Othello in the movie they were watching in class (er, no!) .
You would think an English literature graduate would do better but it seems to be sadly common.

Carol Ann Duffy, you mean?

WaitMonkey Fri 10-Jan-14 00:15:24

I'll be interested to hear what happens next with this.

ComposHat Fri 10-Jan-14 00:16:00

I think the problems arises when idiots people think that the Victorian period and the nineteenth century are synonymous.

Undergraduate history students are swines for it. I wouldn't be surprised if this teacher has fallen into this trap.


ComposHat Fri 10-Jan-14 00:23:41

Personally, yes I would call it a Victorian book, all be it very early Victorian. That would be correct.

I am all for healthy debate and listening to leftfield opinions, but signet you are just plain fucking wrong.

It isn't a Victorian book any more than it is a work of science fiction.

bunchoffives Fri 10-Jan-14 00:26:03

By signets reasoning the Napoleonic Wars were Victorian!!

I'd have said JA was a late Georgian writer.

Catsmamma Fri 10-Jan-14 00:28:04

Maybe she learned history from Friends.

Days of Yore, Yesteryear and Colonial Times ??

EBearhug Fri 10-Jan-14 00:35:37

I have no idea why 'Christian' and 'post-Christian' happens in 1859.

I don't know for sure, but Darwin's On the Origin of Species was published 1859, so I would assume it's something to do with that.

Thank you. smile

JapaneseMargaret Fri 10-Jan-14 00:38:53

And it's 'albeit', not 'all be it' (I fully realise you're quoting, Compos ).

<loathes self for being a pedant>

JapaneseMargaret Fri 10-Jan-14 00:39:51

grin Catsmamma

ComposHat Fri 10-Jan-14 00:49:04

If we have the long nineteenth century (French revolution to outbreak of first world war) and the short twentieth (First world war to end of the cold war) are we due an average length twenty first century?

I think, given US-centric history, the twenty-first might start with September 11th? Not sure how I feel about that but fairly sure it would get suggested.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Fri 10-Jan-14 00:58:56

I once got most indignant about DS' year 6 teacher telling the class that Richard III killed the Princes in the Tower. I sent in a tongue in cheek note reminding him that this was purely speculation and the other theories ought to be taught as well. We have similar senses of humour and had a long discussion on the subject before agreeing that he was sticking to the national curriculum and it wasn't that big an issue. grin to him maybe, I'm a Ricardian
That said, P&P is definitely Regency and this is just wrong! I would say something and it wouldn't be tongue in cheek!

ComposHat Fri 10-Jan-14 01:01:45

Probably, but then how do we think about things like the Balkan and Kosovan wars? As hangovers from the cold war, or precussors of the 21st century? It casts the 1990s as a decade of transition.

On a completely unrelated note, did you get the PhD finished?

ClifftopCafe Fri 10-Jan-14 02:16:50

The message seems constantly that these details don't matter better to design posters & hone presenting skills that will translate into a future boardroom than quibble over some factual point that can be checked on the internet in 5 minutes. I think this is minor & the tip of the iceberg. I have come up against staggering lack of knowledge and only the best educated teachers will be able to tell you about latter day literature greats etc. The vast majority think these things don't matter & IMO it's only going to get worse. Maybe they don't and students should also research in parallel?

echt Fri 10-Jan-14 02:42:02

Good point, Clifftop. They think it doesn't matter because they can't do it/ don't know, so disparage certain kinds of knowledge. On a general basis, it's hard to oppose as there is simply so much more to know about these days. However, it's not excusable in the specialist area. This is why I get on my high horse when I hear, so often on MN, that secure command of spelling, punctuation and grammar is not as important in a teacher as being "good with the kids".

As if you can't have both.

Having said that, I posted on a thread earlier and my use of commas was frightful. blush

RevoltingPeasant Fri 10-Jan-14 07:08:58

But Pride and Prejudice is a work of science fic. Don't you remember the bits with the zombies??


echt Fri 10-Jan-14 07:54:15

You're not wrong, Revolting.

Now I think of it there must be slash fiction versions that account for the sub/dom relationship between Bingley and Darcy, not to mention the real reasons why Darcy is so pissed off with Wickham.

sashh Fri 10-Jan-14 08:10:29

If dd doesn't want to directly challange then what about

"excuse me, I've been wondering about this, when P and P was on TV the costumes seemed regency rather than Victorian, did they get that wrong?"

ComposHat Fri 10-Jan-14 08:36:12


Surely the teacher must have seen the BBC adaptation? Even if they couldn't be arsed to actually read/know anything.

The costumes are clearly Regency. It is all heaving bussoms. I don't think a bussom goes unheaved in it.


ChristmasCareeristBitchNigel Fri 10-Jan-14 09:32:02

When i was 10 my teacher "corrected" a spelling that i had spelt quite correctly. She put in my book to write it out 10 times.

My mother returned the exercise book endorsed with a note that a teacher should know how to spell correctly and that i was not going to be copying incorrect spellings smile

Also, Catch 22 is funny dammit <twitch>

It's also worth thinking through what lesson your dd is currently being taught here. In the scheme of things, it's not that important whether P&P is Regency or Victorian and she can find out the correct information herself from many sources.

No, what she's currently learning is that if someone in authority says something she knows to be wrong, she should fear the consequences of challenging it.

Not good. I think you need to help her learn that she can and should challenge things and that it can be done sensitively.

compos - yep, I did, thanks. Or rather am doing last bit of corrections now. It drags on.

I know what's wrong with all of this. It's too modern. Children should be study proper history what happened way back when, and old books.

But seriously - I agree with buffy. It's not a good lesson, to learn you can't politely challenge a teacher.

Old books? Pfffft. Make 'em read Dworkin grin

Oh, if only we could.

OpalQuartz Fri 10-Jan-14 09:50:59

I agree with you OP that Betty's suggestion is a good one. I'd only contact the HOD if there were further issues.

FriendlyLadybird Fri 10-Jan-14 10:06:43

When I was in Year 6, I remember the Scarlet Pimpernel being presented as a historical fact. I ignored it. And when the teacher questioned my omission in my written 'account' of the French Revolution, I ignored that too. Also, when I was your daughter's age I had a terrible English teacher who annoyed me so much I avoided as many lessons of hers as I could.

So that's one way of approaching it. But considering Jane Austen's precision in every aspect of her writing, it is unforgivable to be woolly when talking about her. Either you or your daughter should mention it to the teacher -- politely and privately.

FWIW, and I can't remember who posted it, I wouldn't call her Romantic, even at a pinch. She's on the cusp of Romanticism and certainly informed by it (that stuff about Mr Rushworth's trees in Mansfield Park), but not altogether a Romantic herself.

Ubik1 Fri 10-Jan-14 10:11:20

These things are important.

As someone who went to lefty comp and received some excellent teaching and some appalling teaching, these details absolutely matter.

I had a friend who just got straight A's in everything (back in the 80's when exams were hard) and was granted an Oxbridge interview (can't remember which) and he floundered on one question regarding The Metaphysical Poets - we had studied Eliot and so my friend mentioned him - he had no idea what they were asking, and didn't get in.

Imagine a pupil happily discussing Austen as a Victorian novel in that situation shock

Athrodiaeth Fri 10-Jan-14 10:24:35

I wonder if the teacher just thinks 'Victorian' is a word meaning 'old days'. So she basically lumps everything into, say, modern, 1960s (disco! beatles!) and then, Victorian. Which covers pre-Beatles back to the Stone Age.

Callani Fri 10-Jan-14 10:38:01

This really reminds me of that kid that got detention for correcting his teacher who was saying a km was longer than a mile...

For humour and outrage (and being thankful that we're not in the American school system) try here

NigellasDealer Fri 10-Jan-14 10:38:15

what i don't understand is the level of surprise from parents and the level of ooooh it doesn't matter from those who i presume must be teachers or training to be teachers.
you know it starts at junior school with teachers chatting nonsense (and I quote) like 'AD means 'after death'' or ''will' is the future tense' or (written) 'lesson's are fun' or H is pron Haitch and it goes on and on.
Apologies in advance to any teachers out there who do not chat ill-informed nonsense to their class.

steppemum Fri 10-Jan-14 10:53:37

christmas - reminds me of a teacher who corrected a place name in my book

me - we went to Lymington and got on the ferry for the Isle of Wight.

her - Leamington Spa?

This was a posh girls school, and very strict secondary English teacher. I remember that dawning realisation that teachers could be wrong, and i stopped being afraid of her and felt very empowered grin

SidandAndyssextoy Fri 10-Jan-14 10:54:25

I challenged the Richard III thing myself in year 8 and my teacher let me do my work from the other angle. At A level I corrected a teacher without thinking about it on the subject of who was married to James II probably picked up from reading Jean Plaidy and both times it was fine, and they were happy to be challenged. I was a mouthy young thing though.

SacreBlue Fri 10-Jan-14 10:56:47

I would encourage your DD to speak up herself as it's an important lesson in challenging misinformation (and encouraging debate on issues where there is contention like the princes in the tower thing)

My DS has done this since primary on many topics RE & dinosaurs mostly and I encourage him to challenge what he is told. Regardless of teachers or anyone else thinking he is being contrary for the sake of it.

I think it is really important to learn how to think critically about information we are given, whether that's in school, in the papers, from friends or from politicians and to speak up and challenge opinion or 'facts'.

Even if occasionally that prompts further information that makes us re-evaluate our own stance (actually maybe especially so) because that's how we, and others, learn.

FWIW I withdrew my DS from RE (in secondary) on the grounds of disagreeing with the syllabus but often the teacher asked him to input into class messing up my curriculum & lessons that I had set him for those days precisely because he offered in-depth, thoughtful and challenging views.

Encourage your DD to get involved in debate - she can use those skills in many ways as she gets older. It may make her more confident and self-assured in voicing her own opinion and challenging established or establishment views in the future.*

*this may include you so be prepared grin

steppemum Fri 10-Jan-14 11:28:22

sacreblue - what were you challenging about dinosaurs? (nosy)

AngelaDaviesHair Fri 10-Jan-14 11:36:04

Well, your DD is kinder than me and my classmates. When our student history teacher told us (as we were studying the Second world War) that the Germans had their own version of the doodlebug, called the V1 rocket, we laughed until she cried.

bugster Fri 10-Jan-14 11:41:46

The teacher sounds awful. It's an appalling mistake for a teacher of English literature to make. It sounds as if your daughter should be teaching her.

SacreBlue Fri 10-Jan-14 11:53:41

steppemum - not me grin , I only know what previously dino obsessed DS son insisted on telling me a bit about dinosaurs. He challenged his teacher on the time period that a particular dinosaur lived in and on the development of modern creatures from dinosaurs amongst other things.

I have to be honest and say that not always have I checked his views with research myself - I trusted him and his nit-picking obsession with dinosaurs and still do, that is not to say I don't pull him up on stuff I think/know he's wrong on - because that's how we learn, hearing/believing something, getting it challenged, providing evidence and/or reinforcing our belief or reevaluating it.

steppemum Fri 10-Jan-14 11:56:35

good for him sacreblue.

I think learning how to politely challenge someone in authority is a great life skill!

motherinferior Fri 10-Jan-14 11:59:58

One of the whole points about JA is that she's not Victorian, surely? Saying 'oh she's part of the Victorian canon so counts' is wrong, wrong, wrong.

halfwildlingwoman Fri 10-Jan-14 12:19:35

I am a English graduate and teacher and I think the teacher may be thinking 19th C = Victorian. On my degree course we did a module of the 19th century novel which went from Frankenstein to Tess, taking in Austen and Dickens on the way. If she did summat similar, that may be where her error lies.
Is she an English graduate? I know a couple of English teachers whose first degree was in drama.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 10-Jan-14 12:26:23

I think she's done the classic thing of equating c.19th with Victorian, and that's not good.

Now there is indeed an ongoing and very interesting debate about whether Victorianists ought more properly consider themselves 'scholars of the nineteenth century', and whether 'Victorian' is a meaningful term to describe all the thought and literature produced while Victoria was on the throne. I don't get any sense here that the teacher is alluding to that, otherwise she would have surely made the point more explicit.

Not sure what you should say or how to say it, but it's good, OP, that your daughter at least knows the difference!

SacreBlue Fri 10-Jan-14 12:33:45

Me too steppemum grin baffles me why more people don't think it is.

FairPhyllis Fri 10-Jan-14 12:36:29

That's really awful. How can you be study or teach English literature and not have a basic knowledge of historical eras?

PrincessFiorimonde Fri 10-Jan-14 12:37:10

I'm familiar with the idea of 'the long nineteenth century', but I'd never come across the term 'the long Victorian era' before reading this thread.Then I found this from the Historical Association, where it says, 'Strictly speaking, the Victorian era began in 1837 and ended with Queen Victoria's death in 1901, but the period can be stretched to include the years both before and after these dates, roughly from the Napoleonic Wars until the outbreak of World War I in 1914.'

This must be what signet has in mind. But is it a new orthodoxy, or a minority/contested view? A contention at university/research level, or more widely taught than that?

To me, it seems odd to wipe out the Regency and Edwardian periods at a stroke, especially in terms of literature. And especially at GCSE level.

OP, I'd do what several posters have suggested - suggest your daughter approaches the teacher one-to-one and asks her about dates/Regency period, etc.

ComposHat Fri 10-Jan-14 12:45:48

Well done LRD are the corrections post Viva?

Anyway, I am doing a PhD encompassing the period 1860-1910. If forced to, I'd describe myself as a nineteenth-century historian, rather than a Victorian historian, as my period is covered by the long nineteenth century.

Quangle Fri 10-Jan-14 12:47:41

I can see how you might describe a house built in, say, 1830 as Victorian and be roughly right. Not accurate but fair enough.

But as another poster says, P&P is set in the midst of the Napoleonic Wars so a very different thing altogether. In fact iirc from my English o'level, it was always one of the criticisms of Jane Austen that she didn't reflect the external events of the time other than incidentally (soldiers popping up here and there). Stupid criticism imho but if you don't know what era she's writing in you won't know what it is she is, or is not, reflecting, and therefore won't be able to take a view on that criticism. So definitely an error that an English teacher should not make.

They are, yes.

Interesting to hear how you'd describe the period.

I am reminded of Michael Idiot Gove's views on period boundaries, though. He expressed shock that some children 'don't know' whether Romans, Vikings, Greeks or Egyptians 'came first'. That sort of stupid comment is what happens when people get too het up about fitting everything into neatly labelled chronological boxes.

I don't see the issue with saying it's long 19th century or whatever, but surely at GCSE you are best just to go with dates and be precise?

(and thanks!)

LeBearPolar Fri 10-Jan-14 12:55:58

Definitely a Victorian=whole of the 19th century thing on the teacher's part, I think, but one huge problem is that "the Victorian novel" is a very different beast from anything Austen wrote in so many ways that it could set up huge problems for any pupils who want to take English Lit. beyond GCSE.

What's the syllabus for A Level these days? It used to be you'd do a modern novel, which I guess requires less historicizing - or more familiar historicizing because most of us know 20th century history reasonably well.

JustGettingOnWithIt Fri 10-Jan-14 13:02:47
ComposHat Fri 10-Jan-14 13:03:42

Aw brilliant!

Yes, for GCSE/A level/undergrad just describe it as what it is.

Thanks. smile

I'm teaching outside my period boundary this term, so that is reassuring to know.

ComposHat Fri 10-Jan-14 13:08:49

Good luck! I am being let loose on undergrads for the first time this semester. Scary stuff.

Final year undergraduates are my favourites. I think it's the terror! grin

Good luck! You'll be great.

I have second years. I'm looking foward to it. smile

I will endeavour not to teach then P&P is Victorian, and we'll all be fine.

Ubik1 Fri 10-Jan-14 13:16:46

Yes The Victorian Novel is different from a novel written in the Victorian period.

Second years: not nervous and keen to please like first years, not yet realised that the end is nearly upon them like final years. Cocky, yet mostly amusing smile

confused Why, ubik?

buffy - I've taught second year before. I liked it.

zipzap Fri 10-Jan-14 13:21:38

I've challenged teachers in the past when I was at school and still do so now that the dc are at school, albeit eldest is only in Y4.

Worst example so far - last year ds1 had to do a big project on inventors and come up with his own invention, then draw it, explain it, the problem that it overcame, etc etc. The person they chose to give as an example - Einstein. Who was not an inventor but a theoretical physicist. (although I do now know thanks to MN that he does have one small patent to his name along with one other person, but it's a pretty minor thing).

Worst part of it was that the teacher didn't really seem to see what the problem was when I asked her to clarify the homework and whether they wanted him to come up with an invention so not like Einstein. Or to come up with theoretical physics instead of an invention but be like Einstein. Doh! angrysad And - that the homework had been set by the head of the year so all the teachers in the year would have seen it and despite them teaching inventing/inventors as their topic for that half term, none of them had picked up on it before the homework was issued.

Einstein is the most over-cited example of so many things. It annoys me.

Ubik1 Fri 10-Jan-14 13:32:27

Oh gawd remembering from 20 years ago...

The Victorian novel was concerned with realism and social change sometimes formulating a political answer to the social conundrum - think Dickens, Zola and also lurid sensational novels such as Wilkie Collins The Woman in White.

In the 20th century you move to modernism and questions of self identity.

Einstein is the most over-cited example of so many things

yy to this. There are so mant misconceptions about him and his work. You would think he had invented and discovered practically everything!


LeBearPolar Fri 10-Jan-14 13:36:09

LRD - I am teaching OCR A-Level and syllabus is:

AS coursework - three post-1900 texts of any genre.
AS exam - one prose text and one poetry text (from set list) 1800-1945

A2 coursework - three texts from any time and any genre but one must be prose and one poetry.
A2 exam - Shakespeare text, one pre-1800 drama, one pre-1800 poetry (all from set list).

persimmon Fri 10-Jan-14 13:36:48

I teach history and a surprising amount of people think the entire 19th century was Victorian.

Thanks SPB.

IceBeing Fri 10-Jan-14 13:41:48

well I learnt something today! Thanks MN!

My University does an MA in Victorian Studies and it concersn the 'long' 19th Century - From 1790-1914.

Rooners Fri 10-Jan-14 13:43:11

Good luck OP. Last week ds1 informed me that bipolar Disorder means having two/multiple personalities...according to his y5 teacher who is now, sadly off sick long term.

I can't say anything. This will never be corrected.

Oops, sorry, missed your post ubik.

I wonder if this is something that shifts with academic fashions quite a lot.

Ubik1 Fri 10-Jan-14 13:44:51

But all this new fangled chat about 'long era' has thrown me. I always understood the Victorian novel as a genre.

SconeRhymesWithGone Fri 10-Jan-14 13:47:57

May I just say, there is no such thing as "the American school system," just as there is no such thing as the UK school system.

As others have suggested, I think the teacher may be equating Victorian with the whole of the nineteeth century. I think OP's DD should be encouraged to correct the teacher, but privately.

BTW, has anyone seen the old 1940 P and P film with Laurence Olivier? The costumes in that are definitely Victorian rather than Regency.

motherinferior Fri 10-Jan-14 13:50:37

Ubik, I think that's just using a post-hoc description of Victorian novels and applying it. It's also inaccurate and reductive.

Well, I am thrown too, and my undergrad was ten years ago. The idea of long and short centuries was old-fashioned then, so I think it's not that it was too new for you, but that it was too old?

I can see why people would teach 'the Victorian novel' as a genre but I think it would be problematic. There was a MN thread a while back with people disagreeing over whether the Little House books were 'Victorian' - you know, because the genre is quite similar to some stuff being written over here, but obviously it's a bit dubiously colonial to slap a label 'Victorian' on something written in another country.

But I dunno.

Even if the teacher is trying to make a subtle point about genre, surely if she is confusing the whole class over what wars Wickham could be fighting in, she's lost them already.

(Ok, I wittered and MI just explained. Whoops.)

Maybe the idea is to try and completely seperate it from the even longer 'Georgian' period in terms of ideals and outlook.

Ubik1 Fri 10-Jan-14 14:02:21

Ach it's a intellectual wankery in the end.

Of course it's reductive - I'm posting on mumsnet not writing a dissertation - but the Victorian novel reflects concerns with social realism and social change, also advances in printing technology, masdive political change The Grwat Reform Act abd the rise of capitalism using literature as a commodity - ie Dickens and Wilkie Collins and also the idea that literature could be an agent fir social change rather than just art.

But I'm sure you could write a lovely essay about how the concept of Victorian novel as a genre is reductive and whatever and it would be fabulous.

Sorry, didn't mean to offend you.

Ubik1 Fri 10-Jan-14 14:06:51

Frankly I could argue that Jonathan Franxen's The Corrections is an example of the Victorian novel in terms of themes and genre ...
<head explodes>

Which means that yes Victorian novel as genre is problematic ... Why didn't I wrote this at university??

Ubik1 Fri 10-Jan-14 14:07:31

Wrote? Write...sorry fat fingers

motherinferior Fri 10-Jan-14 14:07:59

I still think that's taking a definition of 'The Victorian Novel' and then saying that novels that don't fit into that group are by definition non-Victorian even if they were, er, written during the time of Victoria. It's ignoring all that lovely Gothic stuff, from Wuthering Heights to Dracula to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. And it's shoe-horning in all those fabulous sensational novels of the 1860s in a slightly tangential way.

BookroomRed Fri 10-Jan-14 14:33:37

Yes, what motherinferior said. Think of the Brontes. Only Anne is anything like a Victorian realist. Emily is essentially Gothic, and Charlotte does surface realism/feminist social criticism but is really as Gothic as Emily.

And yes, the Olivier Pride and Prejudice film shifts it to some unspecified period within Victoria's reign, judging by the costumes, but have only seen bits, so no idea what happened with the Napoleonic wars, militias etc. it looks very odd indeed.

Mind you, the recentish film with Keira Knightley shifted the design/costumes etc back to the 1790s, when JA wrote the first draft.

motherinferior Fri 10-Jan-14 14:44:09

My MA thesis was all about how Jane Eyre is an attempt at recouping the Gothicism of Wuthering Heights into a more acceptable form, which then gets skewed by CB's own preoccupation with realism and feminism- before CB goes totally off her trolley and does the fabulous split ending of Villette.

Quite a few Gothic elements in the Tenant, too.

Ubik1 Fri 10-Jan-14 14:46:17

But this a just academic debate isn't it. I could argue that Wutheribf Heights is an example of Victorian concerns with social change/ realism. And the sensation novels were also part of the genre - The Woman in White and Dracula

Sorry have to do school run..the pram in the hall etc etc

motherinferior Fri 10-Jan-14 14:52:02

How would you argue it?

It is an academic debate. But the child still has to get her GCSE - if she writes something following a theory that the teacher has perhaps herself not explained very clearly, and it's not a common theory, she is going to struggle. Because the examiners probably won't be expecting it, and unless she is extremely bright, they'll simply think 'oh, this candidate is making factual errors'.

As far as the academic debate goes, I guess to me, it seems more fair to look at similarities and differences between individual novels than to try to define a whole genre by its time period. I mean, you could argue that some writers were very conscious of being 'Victorian' and bought into her cult even if they wrote things outside the limit of her reign, but I think that could only apply to later writers being nostalgic.

Is social realism distinctively Victorian? Because Blake is quite into it, too, isn't he? He's sort of proto-Dickens with less tweeness about The Poor.

Quenelle Fri 10-Jan-14 15:06:18

OP I think to tell the teacher or HOD your DD was confused about the correct era would be very unfair. From what you say she was quite clear that she doesn't believe it to be Victorian. Why should your DD have to be in the wrong to spare the teacher's feelings?

If the teacher was wrong and your DD knew she was she should be encouraged to find a diplomatic way of querying it with her. She doesn't have to do it in front of the whole class, she could say something before or after. If she really doesn't want to you could send an email saying your DD wanted to query it but was worried about how it would be received.

This thread has been very educational. I've never heard of the long 19th century before.

Orangeanddemons Fri 10-Jan-14 15:07:10

I'm not sure how anyone who understands this book, or has seen the film can even think it's set in the Victorian Era

It would seem that the teacher has no understanding of history, social issues or even history of costume. Surely surely the context and history of a book are as important as the book? I am just bemused how an English graduate who must have studied a wide range of books at university can even get it wrong? How?

The architecture and setting of all the films quite clearly show when it was set. I remember our teacher going on about the lovely crescents in Bath when we studied it, and how they were a perfect example of Georgian architecture...

I'm a secondary English teacher and I'd be very embarassed to make this mistake. If I did though and a pupil noticed I'd hope they'd say, 'er, miss are you sure? That can't be right because...' at which point I'd say, 'oh my goodness, you're totally right, silly me!'

I'd be utterly humiliated if a parent wrote to my HOD about it and most HODs I know would be a bit bemused to receive that kind of email. If your DD isn't comfortable saying anything then you could always email the teacher direct?

GarlicReturns Fri 10-Jan-14 15:57:49

The architecture and setting of all the films quite clearly show when it was set. - Yes! I have been reading this thread, in between diving off to indulge my obsession with fashion history and doing a quick check on social context ... I loathe Austen's novels & have carefully avoided knowing anything about her, but I could have told you she was Regency from brief, accidental viewings of the TV series!

If the teacher grew up in England, she can't have escaped knowing something about Austen's era. Which either suggest she didn't, or she knows very little about anything at all confused

grumpyoldbat Fri 10-Jan-14 16:40:28

I hate Austen too, just can't get into them but I too know when they are set and when they were written. Come to think of it we didn't cover any of her novels in English at school.

I know logically that teachers should be challenged when wrong but the memories of what would happen if you questioned a teacher when I was at school are still very vivid. It makes me scared do it. I'm ashamed to say I used the "I think <dd> has become confused" when she was told Africa was a country.

grumpyoldbat Fri 10-Jan-14 16:44:12

Perhaps in slight defence of the teacher who said Catch 22 wasn't funny. Humour is entirely subjective so I think it's OK to find something not funny.

ComposHat Fri 10-Jan-14 17:02:53

In the case of Catch22 it depends if the teacher denied it was a blackly humorous/satirical book or said he/she didn't find it funny.

I get that Hitchhikers Guide is a humorous book, ir. I find it as funny as a prostate examination. But it would be daft yo deny it was written with humorous intent.

It sort of annoys me when people make definitive statements about something subjective, though. My English teacher used to do it. She was great in many ways but she was absolutely convinced Anthony in Anthony and Cleo was a gorgeously sexy character and everyone was 'supposed' to like him from the word go ... I didn't. I still don't. Though I did make an exception for Patrick Stewart acting it. Mmmm. grin

curlew Fri 10-Jan-14 17:14:35

"Forward, men of the Middle Ages!"

phantomnamechanger Fri 10-Jan-14 17:16:17

OP here, I am amazed how far this thread has gone in my absence.

Today they were actually asked to find examples of scenarios in the text to compare social etiquette/values in the Victorian period with our own time sad

I am taking no joy in this at all. In fact I am stressing about it, but I have composed and sent the email. I hope it is well received. I don't know what else I could do - some folk suggested going to see the teacher in person, but surely phoning up to make an appointment (and being cagey about the reason) makes it a right old faff for all concerned and I can't just go into the school and demand to see her!

motherinferior Fri 10-Jan-14 17:24:17

This is truly and breathtakingly crap. I am so sorry.

Oh, you're kidding?! That's really not very good, is it?

I'd be interested to see what response you get to the email.

ComposHat Fri 10-Jan-14 17:30:59

You did right, not only is it breathtakingly dim of the teacher to think Pride and Prejudice, but it could imperil the students' chances of success in exams/coursework. If their answers are all littered with references to 'the victorian period' the marker will neither know or care that their half-witted English teacher misled them.

I did Pride & Prejudice for GCSE and remember mounting a spirited defence of Mrs Bennett and comparing her favourably with her husband. which I shamelessly stole from the York notes

UptheChimney Fri 10-Jan-14 17:31:13

Spectacularly bad teacher. Just as well my boy was a science type. I'd have been down to that school and demanding to see that teacher's degree, where she studied, who taught her, and class of degree in an instant.

Oh yes, in your situation, I'd have been that parent.

Apart from the teacher being wrong, wrong, wrong, it's a very BAD way of teaching fiction. It encourages the pupils to think that fiction is supposed to be like the 'real' world.

And then I have to spend three years undoing all the bad teaching at school ...

ComposHat Fri 10-Jan-14 17:32:54

LRD did she not show you the definite version with Sid James and Amanda 'Alma from Corrie' Barrie in the title role?

That is negligent teaching in itself.


You know, I've absolutely no memory whether she did show us that. She was a cracking teacher in most ways, just with an odd crush on a random fictional character.

I have to say, though, I am thinking about GCSE students and it must be incredibly difficult to do that job. But also ... when in the Victorian period? I mean, it's bloody long, it's like saying you could understand the etiquette in American Psycho by studying examples of dating in WWII.

curlew Fri 10-Jan-14 17:37:18

Wow. Just wow. I am so sorry, OP- I wish I had something helpful to suggest.

TheNightIsDark Fri 10-Jan-14 17:45:31

Wow I've learnt loads from this thread grin
Slightly embarrassing as I'm in my third year of my history degree although it's through the OU so I don't get to debate anything and widen my knowledge!

Have never read an Austen book but still knew the correct era!

RevoltingPeasant Fri 10-Jan-14 17:46:08

So what did you end up saying in your email OP?

phantomnamechanger Fri 10-Jan-14 17:51:51

It's a grammar school with a very recent outstanding Ofsted report too! (which I thoroughly agreed with, it really is a fantastic school, there are very few things we have not been happy with and this is our first cause to complain.) Actually that's one of my causes for concern - they are pushing to get exceptional grades after all and misconceptions grasped thoroughly now may be hard to forget and lead them to make serious mistakes later).

Even though I know I am justified, I still feel a bit crappy! sad

phantomnamechanger Fri 10-Jan-14 17:55:46

RP - that DD did not want to appear rude by contradicting teacher either yesterday or today, (this teacher started this week by the way, so it really was early days and hence DD not knowing how to deal with it) but that the book is not set in the victorian period and this misinformation may affect their understanding of the book and impact on their history work too.

DameDeepRedBetty Fri 10-Jan-14 17:56:02

One has to wonder if English was this particular teacher's degree subject at all. I am aware that last year, dtd2 was being taught English by a teacher who was actually originally appointed to teach French, probably because there were staffing issues. As a matter of fact she seems to be perfectly competent to teach both subjects - maybe Joint Honours, maybe just a fantastic teacher? - but one has to wonder about this.

Up thread, someone said that idiot Gove was an idiot for wanting children to know that Egyptians come before Romans and Romans come before Vikings etc etc. Now I agree Gove is an idiot, but on this particular subject I do actually agree. Each phase of human history influences the next.

phantomnamechanger Fri 10-Jan-14 17:59:31

I have nothing against teachers teaching outside of their specialism, however, they do need to be very well informed and not be making glaring mistakes about something as basic as this in the first couple of lessons.

DrCoconut Fri 10-Jan-14 18:02:45

Haven't read the whole thread but DH says that P+P is set in the long 18th century.

RevoltingPeasant Fri 10-Jan-14 18:03:02

Well, good for you OP. I'd have been bolshier but you handled it kindly and sensitively.

And you know what, speaking as an academic? You get to get up in front of a room of people and have them listen to every word you say and take notes on it. That is a great, great privilege. So if you get it wrong you can expect to get told about it.

We all stuff up from time to time (hopefully not that badly though) and if she is any kind of teacher she will deal with it gracefully. She is wrong, not you, and the truth and those girls' education matter more than her feelings.

dame - that was me.

He is an idiot.

How can Greeks come 'before' Romans? Which Romans? When? What does it mean to say Vikings are 'after' the Romans?

If he'd left the Egyptians and Greeks out of it, I'd assume he means that the Roman occupation of Britain came before the Viking raids on Britain, and I'd say that's fair. But the Romans coexisted with Greeks, Vikings, and Egyptians. There were, IIRC, two Egyptian legions in the Roman army. Lots of Romans spoke Greek and were educated by Greek tutors.

He should know that, if he is going to pronounce on education.

RevoltingPeasant Fri 10-Jan-14 18:03:42

And he's quite right DrC. He sounds like my kind of guy!

RevoltingPeasant Fri 10-Jan-14 18:04:53

LRD does Michael Gove wind you up a bit, then?

<innocent face>


How could you tell?

Actually, I think this is the basic problem on this thread. People are using one kind of category to describe another kind of category. Referring to periods of time by geographic descriptors is stupid. Referring to genres of writing by periods of time is not totally stupid, but it is quite dubious in terms of the unstated assumptions it carries. And if that is what's behind this teacher's mistake, it's not helped her class, has it?

lionheart Fri 10-Jan-14 18:25:48

I have a bit of an issue when American writers are described as Victorian if you want another worm can to open. wink

Opened it upthread. grin

hackmum Fri 10-Jan-14 18:40:28

I love the idea some have touted on this thread that perhaps the teacher has a sophisticated, academic understanding of the term "Victorian" that encompasses the late 18th century to the early 20th century, when in fact it's quite clear that she is an ignoramus who should on no account be teaching English literature to a GCSE class.

Only, as they say, on Mumsnet...

Ubik1 Fri 10-Jan-14 18:40:44

I always understood The Victorian novel to be concerned with themes of social realism and change in the matter part of the 19th century. But this does not mean other literature wasn't being produced at the time - Romanticism etc in the early part of the century. Then of course we have modernism/aestheticism which shifted away from realism and into subjectivity of self, experimental structure/narrative etc

But this is all very broad - for every few writers going on about capitalist conceptions of social mobility/ industrial revolution/lurid weekly episodes etc there are others continuing romantic themes etc - rather like Egyptians in the roman army.

Sorry RL taking over...interesting debate has got some rusty cogs turning grin Am doing eng lit PGDE next year

SconeRhymesWithGone Fri 10-Jan-14 18:46:52

We Americans may call some of our architecture Victorian ("a pretty Victorian village") and some of our values and mores Victorian, but not generally our literature.

LeBearPolar Fri 10-Jan-14 19:27:28

lionheart - I am teaching Ibsen's A Doll's House at the moment and keep having to stop myself saying 'Victorian'. I should really ask the Norwegian girl in the class what the Norwegian equivalent is grin

OpalQuartz Fri 10-Jan-14 20:02:22

A friend lived in a 1930s semi and her next door neighbours referred to their house as a Victorian house.

AntlersInAllOfMyDecorating Fri 10-Jan-14 20:09:48

It is not even fin de siècle! It clearly presents a discourse of various enlightenment concepts; the Victorian novel is a different creature.

I wonder what she would say about Fanny Burney! Who Jane Austen may have borrowed a little from.


Why would it be fin de siecle?

AntlersInAllOfMyDecorating Fri 10-Jan-14 20:58:37

I was using the term generally, as in not even near the end of that century. Friday brain.

GarlicReturns Fri 10-Jan-14 20:59:12

It clearly presents a discourse of various enlightenment concepts - Good grief, really? And there I was thinking it mostly presented the urgency of nailing a suitable chap within a limited time frame!

I'd better get back to Coronation Street ... blush


And the need for shirtless Colin Firth, garlic, don't forget that.

(Though I could never see the appeal, myself.)

One of my Year 11 girls refused to speak to me for a week, after I said that Colin Firth was a terrible Darcy. grin

AntlersInAllOfMyDecorating Fri 10-Jan-14 21:03:27

The wet shirt scene is very enlightening.

I didn't go all the way to Lyme park with a friend and linger hopefully near the lake ... Nope.

Btw, have any of you ever been to the Jane Austen festival in Bath? Thoroughly recommended ... And definitely Georgian.


I thought the bloke in Death Comes to Pemberley was much more how I imagined him. I really enjoyed that.

AntlersInAllOfMyDecorating Fri 10-Jan-14 21:05:35

Lady Catherine face at Remus hmm

It's Mr Collins for you!

AntlersInAllOfMyDecorating Fri 10-Jan-14 21:06:31

Did Antigone like lost in Austen?

AntlersInAllOfMyDecorating Fri 10-Jan-14 21:06:48

Anyone?! Oops

Don't know it (though I like the sound of Antigone lost in Austen).

Mr Collins eh? Yikes.

Colonel Brandon is my Austen hero of choice.

AntlersInAllOfMyDecorating Fri 10-Jan-14 21:12:49

Yes, perhaps a classics Austen mix ... Everything else has been done.

It was a drama a few years ago of an Austen fan who ends up going into the book through her bathroom... Meets the characters etc. has a wet shirt parody, which is why I mentioned.

Wabbitty Fri 10-Jan-14 21:15:01

Didn't it have Gemma Arterton in it? I enjoyed it

Caitlin17 Fri 10-Jan-14 21:21:00

I'm glad I'm not the only person who doesn't like Austen. She's so lifeless compared to say Smollet or Fielding or Dickens or Thackeray. It's all the same story basically.

The only one I like is Northanger Abbey which is the one the Janeites hate as it's not Janey enough much as Dickens' fans dislike A Tale of two Cities for not being Dickensian.

Apologies if I've posted this twice.

SconeRhymesWithGone Fri 10-Jan-14 21:27:05

So Death Comes to Pemberley has been made into a TV series? I wonder if we will get to see it in the States. I haven't read the book, although I am a huge PD James fan.

Well, I am a Janeite who loves NA. Loathe Dickens.

I couldn't read, 'Death Comes to Pemberley." Thought it was awful.

AntlersInAllOfMyDecorating Fri 10-Jan-14 21:39:12

NA is my favourite Austen actually, so don't generalise too much! Also, whilst Smollett's picaresque style is rightly celebrated, I would argue it anticipates and compliments the social sensibilities of Austen and Burney and how both encapsulate a nascent modernity - even if on some level it is a reworking of the Cinderella myth. As Booker asserts, even then there are only seven! Each of these authors helps the novel evolve from the clumsy epistolary shenanigans of Pamela in an enduring way. Thank goodness.

Ps I hate Jane Eyre awful book!

Wabbitty Fri 10-Jan-14 21:45:25

Don't mind Jane Eyre. Tess of the D'urbervilles makes me want to slit my wrists. Silas Marner is enjoyable.

AntlersInAllOfMyDecorating Fri 10-Jan-14 21:46:10

I loathe hardy even more than Jane eyre!

The bits with Rochester in are brilliant - the rest = soul destroyingly boring.

Caitlin17 Fri 10-Jan-14 21:59:33

I like epistolary novels.

Jane Eyre,the person rather than the book, is terrifically dull.

My favourite fictional character is Tom Jones. I always see him as a young Keanu Reeves, very pretty, very likeable and dim.

Yes, it was on the beeb, scone.

I haven't read the book though.

I don't think I like novels much. I read modern novels but I can't be doing with anything from before about Dorothy Sayers' time.

EBearhug Fri 10-Jan-14 22:11:05

The architecture and setting of all the films quite clearly show when it was set. - Yes! I have been reading this thread, in between diving off to indulge my obsession with fashion history and doing a quick check on social context ... I loathe Austen's novels & have carefully avoided knowing anything about her, but I could have told you she was Regency from brief, accidental viewings of the TV series!

Yes, but you have to know something about architecture and fashion history to know what they're clearly showing about the period, and unless someone of GCSE age has a particular interest in either of those things, I wouldn't expect them to know by default. (I had books on the history of costume, and had a good idea of different styles of dress through the 19th century from my early teenage years, but I wasn't always normal.)

MamaMary Fri 10-Jan-14 22:13:23

My English teacher once referred to Seamus Heaney as being 'a Scottish poet'. She even asked us to put on a Scottish accent when reading Death of a Naturalist shock

sassytheFIRST Fri 10-Jan-14 22:18:20

Just as a point of order, it is perfectly possible to have a degree which is not in English Literature, but to nonetheless teach English well, to be very knowledgable about texts, authors, contexts et al (and to be bloody good at doing your research if you aren't sure beforehand).

I might have a wee axe to grind, being an American Studies graduate, and all...

This teacher sounds at best careless, and at worst incompetent. And wrong, of course. Well done for sending the email. I'd be interested to hear what transpires.

Pippilangstrompe Fri 10-Jan-14 22:18:23

LeBear, Ibsen is national romantic. Definitely not Victorian.

No Norwegian would refer to anything related to their 19th century as Victorian. In my experience only those who have studied history or English literature are aware of what Victorian refers to. It isn't part of the common vocabulary.

sassytheFIRST Fri 10-Jan-14 22:23:01

OMG at the scots accent in Death of a Naturalist...all those creaking frogs.... That's an unforgivable mistake!shock

grin Anyone else imagining Heaney poems in a Sean Connery accent now?

sassytheFIRST Fri 10-Jan-14 22:26:59

How about Blackberry Picking - "handsh shticky ashh Bluebeardsh?"


It would be brilliant.

Quoteunquote Fri 10-Jan-14 23:19:55

Easily avoided,

I always start every lesson (adults or children), with something along the lines of , listen up, today I will be giving you information some of it correct, some of it incorrect, pay attention, take notes, your homework is to identify and correct, please reference your work. additional points for three new bits of relivant of information.

This leads to accurate note taking and detailed cross referencing.

It also has the great side effect of me never being wrong, and covering anything I miss.

No child or person should feel they can't question their teacher, and no teacher should take offence at being caught out on a mistake.

“Don’t just teach your children to read…
Teach them to question what they read.
Teach them to question everything.”

George Carlin,

If the people who you are teaching aren't questioning you, then you are not a good teacher.

lionheart Fri 10-Jan-14 23:23:38

Poor Heaney.

Maybe the teacher was thinking in Gaelic terms ... or summit. smile

Now I have Connery reading it in my head, too. It makes weird sense.

ComposHat Sat 11-Jan-14 03:16:12

I couldn't read, 'Death Comes to Pemberley." Thought it was awful.

I watched the first part of Death Comes to Pemberley' after hearing it was a murder mystery and the fact that Anna Maxwell Martin was in it (she is our history department's resident Girl done good).

It lwas utter mince.

If you are going to make it a murder mystery, why not spice it up a bit?

Why not make Elizabeth a maverick chain smoking cop who doesn't play by the rules, but gets results goddammit! She could be teamed up with an older more conventional African-American cop, who has got one more case to do before he retires.

ravenAK Sat 11-Jan-14 04:32:49

It's a fairly glaring mistake, best dealt with by an email direct to the teacher.

The task to find differing etiquette etc is fine in itself, if you've got the period right in first place! Context is one of the assessment objectives of the Eng Lit syllabus.

Having said that, peculiar choice of text, anyway. Austen works best as a quiet chuckle, rather than as a GCSE novel to be chopped about for analysis. I'd've picked a nice robust Dickens.

ImpOfDarkness Sat 11-Jan-14 09:09:23

I'm mostly just impressed that they're doing P & P for GCSE rather than Lord of the bloody flies.

FourArms Sat 11-Jan-14 09:37:02


"If the people who you are teaching aren't questioning you, then you are not a good teacher."

Thanks for this - my students question me daily and sometimes they're right and I'm wrong. I always acknowledge when I've made a mistake and never (unlike some teachers) try to cover it up. I'm happy to say I don't know on occasion, or that I'm not sure but I'll look it up / discuss with a teacher who specialises in that area. I work with v.bright kids (super selective grammar) so issues like this are almost unavoidable. smile

ComposHat Sat 11-Jan-14 10:06:17

Or Kes. Interestingly my wife who grew upon in the south, didn't. Perhaps the exams boards thought we were all Kestrel flying urchins in ex-pit towns.

hackmum Sat 11-Jan-14 11:40:42

Imp: "I'm mostly just impressed that they're doing P & P for GCSE rather than Lord of the bloody flies."

Quite. I find DD's GCSE syllabus very dull (includes Mice of the Men as well as Lord of the Flies) and very female-unfriendly. I'm not saying girls can't enjoy those books, but it would be nice to have something that could engage their interest a bit more directly.

But the more I think about this, the more shocked I am at the teacher. Even if she didn't already know that P&P was set in the Regency period, then a little bit of background reading about the book would have told her. So we can assume that she hasn't done any background reading either.

YouTheCat Sat 11-Jan-14 11:43:32

Wabbity, I also loathe Tess of the D'Urbevilles. Detest it.

Had it for A level and only managed to get to chapter 6 before deciding to go rogue and read one of the alternative texts instead, as a back up.

GarlicReturns Sat 11-Jan-14 12:49:48

Ebear - "but I wasn't always normal" grin You & I both!

I wasn't assuming the pupils should have known, but the teacher!

Thanks goodness there are teachers on this thread, who encourage questioning. Love your approach, Quote, it makes perfect sense! (and sensibility, argh)

sashh Sat 11-Jan-14 13:00:57

In my experience only those who have studied history or English literature are aware of what Victorian refers to

In Australia they have living breathing Victorians, it refers tot he state not the queen.

lljkk Sat 11-Jan-14 13:15:15

Mountain out of a molehill.

SconeRhymesWithGone Sat 11-Jan-14 13:50:23

Good point sashh. And in Canada there is the city of Victoria, the city of Regina, also the province of Alberta, named for Victoria's daughter Princess Louise (Alberta was her second name, chosen for the province in part also to honor Prince Albert.) Prince Edward Island is named for Victoria's father.

In the US there is a lifestyle magazine called Victoria, which features Victoriana home decor, food, architecture, and the occasional feature on some Victorian worthy. We also have a home decorating magazine called Victorian Homes.

LeBearPolar Sat 11-Jan-14 14:15:41


LeBear, Ibsen is national romantic. Definitely not Victorian.

No Norwegian would refer to anything related to their 19th century as Victorian. In my experience only those who have studied history or English literature are aware of what Victorian refers to. It isn't part of the common vocabulary.

Not sure what you mean by national romantic - are you talking about Romantic nationalism? Ibsen's plays span that movement and Realism; some critics link him to Naturalism, some distinguish between his Realism and the Naturalism of later playwrights.

I am perfectly aware that no Norwegian would refer to their 19th century as Victorian because she wasn't the queen of Norway hmm That's why I don't use that term when I'm teaching A Doll's House.

ComposHat Sat 11-Jan-14 23:50:08

sshh I'd have thought any adult with a modicum of intelligence and had made their way through a three year degree course would take a guess that it it referred to the period of Queen Victoria's reign.

grumpyoldbat Sun 12-Jan-14 05:46:28

I have a science degree and I know what Victorian means. In the UK sense as well as the Australian sense.

MyGoldenNotebook Sun 12-Jan-14 08:09:12

Funnily enough when I was teaching P&P last year a colleague (trying to be helpful) emailed me a power point on the novel which contained slides on its Victorian context. I felt quite embarrassed for her and didn't know how to bring it up so just started talking about why I liked regency novels in the staff room. I hope it's not the same person!

motherinferior Sun 12-Jan-14 08:29:35

Shhh, I assume any teacher of Eng lit has a degree in English in any case. I'd be very worried about one that didn't.

sassytheFIRST Sun 12-Jan-14 08:31:56

Did you see my post about my degree in American Studies, MI? I can assure you I am dead good; better than many colleagues with Eng Lit degrees wink

motherinferior Sun 12-Jan-14 08:36:38

Ok, I accept I was wrong and apologise; a literature degree.

AmberLeaf Sun 12-Jan-14 08:46:02

Love that approach quoteunquote.

My son had a similar issue once with a history teacher. my son has a real interest/slight obsession with history and noticed an inaccuracy said by the teacher. he did point it out by raising his hand and saying it. It didn't go too well but not too bad, that teacher did seem reluctant to respond to my sons raised hand after that though.

I told my son that a better approach in future would be to speak to him after the lesson on his own.

Iwillorderthefood Sun 12-Jan-14 09:14:30

Amber leaf, I am not criticising you, but isn't it a shame that we have to teach our children to not ask at the time to save the teacher's ego? In many other circumstances including the workplace, an error such as this would be called immediately, and not swept under the carpet until later.

AmberLeaf Sun 12-Jan-14 09:28:50

It is a shame really.

I suppose it's all part of the whole children are 'lesser' thing.

Iwillorderthefood Sun 12-Jan-14 09:31:08

Yes I think it is, but as a pp from the US said she would have just stuck her hand up at school and said something. What a shame our DC are being taught to not speak up.

liquidstate Sun 12-Jan-14 09:43:34

Sorry bit late to the discussion (stupid morning sickness).

I am an archaeologist (with the necessary degree and post grad degrees) and we use centuries (ie 18thC, 19thC) as well as periods (Georgian, Victorian) when phasing sites and finds. The use of late Georgian will take the dating up from the 1780s to 1830s.

Even I knew as a child that P&P was Georgian. Its surely listed in the notes at the front of the book? To say its Victorian once by accident is understandable, more than that is stupidity. The teacher sounds not very good to be honest.

LadybirdsEverywhere Sun 12-Jan-14 12:44:03

Maybe because she is new to the school, she has rocked up and the HOD has shoved a copy of P&P in her hands and said to get on with it. She might never have read any Austen before and is thinking that she will wing it this week and get some research done this weekend.

She still needs to know the Victorian thing is wrong.

motherinferior Sun 12-Jan-14 12:49:38

An English teacher who's never read any Austen????

sassytheFIRST Sun 12-Jan-14 14:27:52

A big smile to MI. I was (half) teasing.

sassytheFIRST Sun 12-Jan-14 14:29:56

Surely she MUST have read some Austen? Or at the very least, seen a film?

Mind you, thinking about some our the PGCEs we've had through the Dept in recent years, perhaps not.

Head in hands.

Erm ... P&P isn't that long. If you had managed to become an English teacher without reading it (!), you could read it plus the intro in a long afternoon and then you would notice.

LeapingOverTheWall Sun 12-Jan-14 14:35:43

a trainee teacher asked me once if Robinson Crusoe was a biography or an autobiography. I was shock

Bue Sun 12-Jan-14 15:02:13

Revolting I would have done exactly the same thing. And I can remember challenging teachers (politely) on two occasions in fact. Once I was right and once I was wrong. But then again I am Canadian so maybe it IS an across the pond thing..

Pixel Sun 12-Jan-14 17:15:24

but isn't it a shame that we have to teach our children to not ask at the time to save the teacher's ego?
This is making me really cross now, the idea that children have to pretend to be ignorant just to save the teachers' feelings. Isn't that similar to clever children having to cover up their knowledge/enthusiasm to avoid being bullied as 'swots'? And are the teachers really that fragile? They are being paid to do a job after all and in any other workplace people would expect to have errors pointed out.
I don't know where this has come from. Is it a widespread thing nowadays? Because I certainly don't remember anyone being afraid to point out something that was wrong, (even I would have, and I was very shy at school) or is it just one of those mumsnet things where you have to show how very reasonable you are at all times to avoid being shouted down?

I remember getting ticked off for it when I was at school. Some people do believe it's rude for children to correct a teacher. Don't think it is a mumsnet thing particularly.

Shallishanti Sun 12-Jan-14 17:28:47

you have just reminded me about my friend at school (early 70s) the science teacher told us how with heat things expand but when they cool they contract. My friend said, 'what about fish fingers Miss- they get smaller when you cook them'- and got into loads of trouble for being 'cheeky'
seems like times haven't changed much. I agree OP's daughter would be wise to tread carefully, for her own protection, but what an indictment of the culture in schools!

AmberLeaf Sun 12-Jan-14 19:47:29

Pixel I just told my son to speak to the teacher alone as it seemed more polite. but you're right, he probably shouldn't have to consider the teachers ego when he spots a mistake.

Pixel Sun 12-Jan-14 19:55:16

I'm not saying children shouldn't be polite, of course they should, but the teacher is the adult. It really shouldn't be up to a child to spare their feelings beyond normal politeness and tact. If they aren't prepared to listen to a child who is taking an part in the lesson, how can they be surprised when said child eventually loses interest in the subject and just goes through the motions?

But children don't always know how to be polite in a situation where they're telling an adult they're wrong - they have to learn by doing it.

And adults ought to accept it.

UptheChimney Sun 12-Jan-14 20:29:57

Also, children may not know enough to know when the teacher is wrong in a matter of fact.

curlew Sun 12-Jan-14 22:25:16

I would expect an adult to point out a mistake my child made politely and tactfully. I would expect my child- certainly by the time they reached 14- to do the same to an adult.

Pixel Sun 12-Jan-14 22:37:10

LRD I agree totally. It's all part of learning isn't it.

It should be.

curlew - as a monumentally tactless child, I am grateful to teachers who saw past that and realized it wasn't deliberate. 14 is still quite young - you won't that often have encountered an adult who knows less than you, will you? So you won't have had much practice.

SconeRhymesWithGone Sun 12-Jan-14 23:01:59

I still think the correction should be done privately, when possible. At work, I apppreciate someone coming to me privately to point out a mistake, rather than broadcasting it to 30 people at a staff meeting. Of course, sometimes it is necessary to call people on mistakes in a group setting, but when not, it just seems more respectful to do it privately, whatever the relationship.

curlew Mon 13-Jan-14 08:25:56

But, LRD- by 14 I would expect them to be able to correct ^each other^tactfully- or know when they aren't (being rude deliberately is a different thing!) So why wouldn't they use the same techniques with adults?

Because some people have an odd idea about what's 'respectful' to adults?

You also probably wouldn't correct your boss exactly the same way as a colleague, I guess, but I also think people are weird.

Anyway, OP, any news? I want to know what happened!

Quoteunquote Mon 13-Jan-14 11:34:24


And the follow up, when you are not sure of the answer to a question that bright student has asked you is, "That is an excellent question, I want you(whole class ) to research that for homework".

YouTheCat Mon 13-Jan-14 13:32:28

I am banging my head off the desk. I teach phonics and get given quite a lot of the work ready printed as, as a teaching assistant, I don't get planning time.

Today we have been learning how 'i' can make a short or long sound, as in gift and wild. One of the sentences I was given to read with the children was 'The wild cheater ran as fast as the wind'. hmm

This was planning done by a teacher who has responsibility for KS1 literacy, who has been teaching for over 15 years. How can she not know the difference between 'cheater' and 'cheetah'?

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Mon 13-Jan-14 13:58:55

Maybe she did, maybe the subject is a con artist who has been cornered by the fuzz?! grin

YouTheCat Mon 13-Jan-14 14:16:00

True. grin

I made the distinction between the animal and someone who cheats to the group though, just in case.

limitedperiodonly Mon 13-Jan-14 14:56:05

as a monumentally tactless child

Don't worry, you weren't the only one lrd.

I've grown into an only slightly more tactful adult. grin

I don't think I was particularly tactless really. My parents brought me up to contribute to conversations as an equal and like you said, some adults aren't happy with that.

Maybe your parents were the same.

As an English teacher, who has worked with and mentored many trainees and indeed qualified teachers (some in quite senior positions) I am continually astonished by how little some of them read/have read.

phantomnamechanger Mon 13-Jan-14 18:41:13

Hi, OP here, (amazed this is still going strong!)

no update (ie no reply to my email and DD has not had a lesson with teacher in question). However, her other teacher made a point today of mentioning the Napoleonic wars and asking if they knew who was on the throne (which DD did).

I am not sure whether this was a coincidence that would have happened anyway, because of the assignment that teacher was covering, or whether this is significant

Please do keep updating - my dd and I have lurked and loved this thread and I need closure!

This is the sort of discussion that makes me love MN

meboo Thu 16-Jan-14 19:30:44

It's thursday, have you heard?

phantomnamechanger Sat 18-Jan-14 11:30:49

OP reporting back with an update, and wanting more advice as I am disappointed in how this has been handled. Will be long, sorry smile

First another AIBU. AIBU to expect the teacher to at least have the courtesy to reply to my email, sent Friday 10th? Given that I was polite and tactful and alerted her to her error before she dug herself into an even bigger hole and made herself look foolish? All it needed to be was "Thank you for the email, silly me, of course your DD is correct I will make sure I tell the class asap" . She could even have saved face by saying she had realised her error and was already making plans to correct it. I did not want gushing thanks or a public acknowledgement (DD would have been embarrassed if for example this was mentioned in class)

DD had the teacher again yesterday - she only has her 3 times a fortnight so this was the first time she had seen the class since the first 2 lessons after which I sent the email. Their other English teacher however had in the interim mentioned the correct monarch & time period and that Napoleon/nelson/Wellington were important figures at the time. Possibly a coincidence due to the part of the book they were covering, and not necessarily triggered by my email, though I do consider this may have been part of the setting things straight within the department. The other teacher's reference to Victorian was not mentioned/corrected at all though.

Anyway, yesterday the teacher was all "I don't know what I was thinking I realised as soon as you left last lesson that I had been saying Victorian, I was confused with the book I had been studying with my class the period before " Now, I do not buy this at all. Firstly the error was made in 2 lessons on 2 days. So she made the same "mistake" twice in a row? Once would have been bad enough, and you would make damn sure you corrected yourself immediately in the next lesson, no? Now, again I am not expecting her to publicly point out that someone's mum has emailed in and whoops teacher is wrong. But I really think she has done her self no favours in coming across as dishonest. What are DD and her friends to think? They know I emailed! Are they to think That teachers do not admit mistakes, do not acknowledge when pointed out? Do not thank people who point things out? How are they supposed to respect her when she can't even be courteous and honest? I dread to think how she would have handled this if DD had had the nerve to immediately query this in the lesson. Certainly not well done have 500 house points as someone suggested earlier. Don't think DD will be inclined to do so in future either now.

so what to do? I really do feel it is not on to not reply to my email and not acknowledge DD being correct. However, if I escalate things, given teacher has obviously not appreciated my intervention, I do not want her holding a grudge and making things tricky for DD.

YouTheCat Sat 18-Jan-14 11:43:02

I'd let it go but make sure dd can ask you/google if she thinks her teacher is wrong in future.

I'd say the teacher is probably embarrassed by her glaring error.

Pippilangstrompe Sat 18-Jan-14 11:53:29

The teacher is embarassed and trying to cover her tracks. I think you saud way back that she is quite new in the job? New teachers are often lacking in confidence and don't want to admit getting stuff wrong. Being able to admit you don't know or that you have gotten stuff wrong comes with confidence.

I understand why you are annoyed, but just let it go. She will be more careful with her preparation in future, I'm sure.

OpalQuartz Sat 18-Jan-14 12:19:20

She should have acknowledged your email, but I don't think her way of dealing with it with the class was bad. She admitted she had made an error rather than just not mentioning it. It was a white lie to say that she had confused it with another book to save face, or maybe she did get mixed up with the previous book. I don't think it is massively dishonest to say that, or that it matters really, as long as she corrected the error. I can understand your concern that her understanding of the book is not great though. I'd be more concerned about that. Is she doing teaching practice or an NQT? I've forgotten which it was.
Did you CC the other teacher or do you think she has mentioned it to her? If the second then I think it was good of her to admit it to the other teacher so it could be cleared up by both of them.

BettyBotter Sat 18-Jan-14 12:24:53

Let it go. She is inexperienced, embarrassed, humilated and is now correcting her mistake for the class. What do you want from her? Public self-flagellation?

Nanny0gg Sat 18-Jan-14 12:31:11

Let it go now, but if the opportunity arises to speak to her directly at a parents' evening, you might be able to mention that you wondered if she'd received your email as you hadn't had a reply...

But jump on her if there's another error like that!

OpalQuartz Sat 18-Jan-14 12:34:13

Actually, thinking about it I can understand why she didn't reply to your email too. (Embarrassment.) She has dealt with it and corrected her error and that is the main thing. I don't think you need worry about the effect on your dd of how she has dealt with this. I'm sure she will be fine. I would only escalate if there are further glaring errors, but I'm sure she will be very careful from now on.

complexnumber Sat 18-Jan-14 12:34:38

The definition of 'misinformation' that I hold to is this:

false or inaccurate information, especially that which is deliberately intended to deceive

I'm not sure the teacher has done that.

Let it go.

phantomnamechanger Sat 18-Jan-14 13:03:56

OK, I bow to the wisdom of MN and let it go. I did not want her to give me a medal or do penance - a simple thank you and sorry would have done, just to acknowledge the email.

I do still think not replying to an email is RUDE. But there is nothing to be gained by making more of this than need be. To clarify, I did not copy the other teacher in, nor the HoD, so if that was not a coincidence I agree she has shared it and possibly asked for advice on how to backtrack.

We have already deliberately NOT made an appt to see her at parents evening, to save her blushes ! But that was mainly due to being forewarned we would only be able to have a very limited number of appts and being more concerned about seeing staff where DD is thinking of choosing options.

DirtieBertie Sat 18-Jan-14 13:07:37

Serious misinformation?

Serious misinformation would be telling them that pregnancy can be prevented by crossing their fingers or that the world was created by blob monsters from the Planet Zog.

She has misdated a novel by a handful of decades, Yes, she ought to have known better. Yes, it ought to be corrected. But serious misinformation?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Sat 18-Jan-14 13:23:09

OP, I was right with you on it being a bit rubbish that this teacher said the novel was Victorian, but I think now you're being daft, sorry.

You keep saying you 'don't expect a medal', you 'don't expect her to grovel' etc, to the extent that I think actually you do want praise and acknowledgment for dd, more than you're letting on.

You're actually not going to see her on parents' evening 'to save her blushes'?? That's mad.

And actually, whether you 'buy it' or not, it is perfectly possible that the teacher is telling the truth - I spent half a seminar referring to John and Isabella Thornton in Northanger Abbey, because I'd just been talking about Wuthering Heights elsewhere blush. And even if that is a face-saving excuse, bloody hell, give the woman a break!

Well done to your dd, she was right and the teacher was wrong. Mumsnet have congratulated you, and her, but it doesn't look as though school is going to give you an extra pat on the back this time.

English is a pretty important subject. Will you be able to see the other teacher?

phantomnamechanger Sat 18-Jan-14 13:46:31

Nit - as you yourself say Well done to your dd, she was right and the teacher was wrong -it would have been nice for the teacher to at least privately acknowledge this rather than totally ignore the fact. She has admitted she made a mistake, yes, (what else could she have done she can hardly insist she's right!) but she could have used this to say whoops yes class, I made an error, I am human, it happens, so please do ask/query/correct me in future......She has done nothing to make herself seem approachable.

I reiterate that I/we did not want praise or thanks or anything that would embarrass DD in public, hence part, and only a tiny part of us deciding not to see that teacher (the real reason being we are only allowed a set number of appt, so we can only book to see about half her teachers anyway!). I just expected the basic courtesy of a reply to my email. She was embarrassed? So was DD & so was I TBH, and I said so!

As I have already said this is the end of the matter. Hopefully there will be no further incidents.

phantomnamechanger Sat 18-Jan-14 13:52:26

no breatheslowly, we wont bother, we have picked just the subjects that DD has to choose between for her options, so we can find out what the courses entail and help her decide. We are seeing none of the compulsory subjects which include maths, English, PE, RE and 3 different sciences! We are seeing Tech, art, 2 humanities, 2 language and music. If we had concerns about her struggling in any area we would of course see that teacher or phone in at any time to ask for a meeting.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Sat 18-Jan-14 13:55:11

Isn't the important thing that the facts are now clear? Whatever the reason she got it wrong the first time.

Maybe the rest of the class also got their mums to email, and that's why your dd didn't get a private audience in which the teacher apologised and thanked her profusely and admitted she is fallible, as you seem to want? Or maybe she made a mistake just as she said. Maybe your email went into the junk folder? Who knows. Buy your daughter and yourself a little medal or something, and move on.

Nanny0gg Sat 18-Jan-14 14:11:12


The OP asked for advice, read it and followed it.

Why the continuing pops at her?

phantomnamechanger Sat 18-Jan-14 14:48:35

thanks I don't really want to bump this up again, but thank you NannyOgg

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